Apsley Autumn Studio Tour returns this weekend — with a modern twist

·3 min read

APSLEY — The self-guided Apsley Autumn Studio Tour, a decades-old celebration of community arts, is returning this year — with a modern twist.

For this year’s 28th annual studio tour, which will see 28 artists — from painters and sculptors to metalwork artisans — present new works at 13 studios across North Kawartha and Wollaston townships, organizers are introducing a new mobile app to help guests navigate the tour while discovering talented creatives along the way.

The first-of-its-kind, free-to-download Apsley Autumn Studio Tour App, available for Apple and Android phone users at the App Store and Google Play, offers art-lovers an interactive and engaging roadmap of the studio tour.

It was designed and launched by Brad Carson, a web developer at Trent University’s digital marketing department, who recently formed a mobile app start-up dubbed Toureka.

“I love art and I wanted to build something cool. I saw a way that I could be of service to artists in the community in a field I was interested in,” Carson said.

Carson said he set out to develop the app after learning that some tour attendees were having difficulties finding some of the studio locations through the traditional printed brochure. The app allows users to find studio locations at the touch of a button, he said.

“You can favourite each artist and location; basically building a customized tour for yourself and then it’s integrated with Google Maps, so it will give you directions to each location. It will also give users more information with artist bios, and it’s almost Instagram-like in the sense that there’s an artist gallery with contact information. It goes far beyond what a printed brochure can offer,” Carson said.

Carson began developing the app in the spring of 2020. When brought the idea to Apsley Autumn Studio Tour organizers — the yearly tour is overseen by a five-member executive board led by president Brad Copping — they were “blown away,” he said.

“They were overwhelmingly positive about the idea and were on board with it immediately,” Carson said.

“We thought it was a brilliant idea,” said Susan Rankin, tour treasurer in charge of advertising.

“Basically, this is the perfect digital brochure but it’s even better because it has the interactive map,” Rankin said.

For tour attendees reluctant to handle printed brochures during the pandemic, Rankin said the new app gives guests a safe, paperless option to navigate each studio.

The Apsley Autumn Studio Tour was “very fortunate” to be able to run last year — the two-day tour followed provincial COVID-19 guidelines and took place shortly before the lockdown took effect, she said.

This year’s tour will feature demonstrations at some of the 13 studios.

Rankin and Copping — both glass blowers — are among the featured artists. All of the executive board members are artists themselves, said Rankin.

“There will be demonstrations at some of the studios. Copping will be doing glass blowing demonstrations every hour on the hour all weekend long. It’s exciting,” Rankin said.

As for Carson, the introduction of his Toureka-powered app for the 2021 tour is “just the beginning.”

“I have plans to build it and add other features next year. One of my main goals was to make sure the app itself was a work of art, so it’s very interactive,” he said.

“I’m looking (to bring) that ‘eureka’ experience of awe and excitement and engagement. The purpose of the app is to help people find what they love.”

Attendees of Saturday and Sunday’s tours can expect a wide variety of works, from painting, jewellery, glass art and woodworking to fibre art, pottery and photography.

To download the app and see a full list of featured artists and studio locations, visit apsleystudiotour.com/.

Brendan Burke is a staff reporter at the Examiner, based in Peterborough. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative.

Brendan Burke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Peterborough Examiner

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